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Back Kawasaki for opening win.

FOOTBALL KAWASAKI FRONTALE v SHANGHAI SIPG 10am TWO sides who shared the distinction of being ousted by Urawa Red Diamonds last year clash in the stand-out encounter from the opening round of AFC Champions League group games, writes Steve Davies.

Kawasaki Frontale were undone by compatriots Urawa in the quarter-finals before the Japanese aces took care of Shanghai SIPG in the semis.

Kawasaki recovered from the disappointment of that last-eight exit by going on to claim a maiden J-League crown and they can get off to a winning start in 2018 against their Chinese rivals.

Shanghai, as one of the Chinese Super League powers, have money to burn and their expensively-assembled squad are expected to be a force once more in the Champions League.

Record signing Oscar makes them tick and 31-year-old Hulk enjoyed a blistering end to 2017 as the Shanghai club claimed second spot in the league.

Andre Villas-Boas, the man who led them to the runners-up berth, has been replaced by another Portuguese in Vitor Pereira, and they were decent enough squeezing past Thai team Chiangrai in the playoff round. The scoreline was 1-0 but the Chinese outfit had nine shots on target and utterly bossed affairs.

This, though, will be a completely different challenge at a buzzing Todoroki Stadium where the Japanese were virtually unbeatable last term, losing just one of 17 in the league and none of five in the Champions League.

Recommendation Kawasaki Frontale 1pt 13-10 general

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Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Feb 13, 2018
Words:243
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